The Spontaneous Building of Shelters in GG Park (2/14/10)

On Valentine’s Day, spontaneous hunting and gathering-type activities were observed on the Golden Gate Park bandshell green. The ever watchful Jen walked her dog on the concourse and reported that gardeners had pruned the plane trees and left piles of branches lying on the ground, which people were using to build little shelters.

People Creating Shelters

When we arrived with cameras, and sans dog, there were at least 25 little structures on the green. Friends, couples, and families of all races were busy bending and tying branches to form all manner of dwelling, like so many Andy Goldsworthys.

We wandered among the shelters, some in the process of being built, some occupied by people enjoying their handiwork, and others abandoned.

I asked one father about his vision for a shelter he was constructing. “I’m just playing. But my wife created that,” he said, pointing to a little hut with a heart on top, woven with flowers. “Aren’t I a lucky man?” I couldn’t disagree.

The Hut That Love Built
The Hut That Love Built

Some person or persons created a giant nest, which others gleefully hopped into for pictures.

The Nest

Of course, we went native. Jen made a crown of the branches woven with flowers, which quickly had a couple of little girls clamoring for their father to make them similar toppers. And I made a heart.

We are certainly slotted into highly specialized professions these days, many of us quite removed from the practical. It was great to see people connect to nature.

And this wasn’t an organized flash mob, or some expression of hipness. It was spontaneous, unpretentious, and multi-generational. All in all, a pretty heartwarming tribute to people’s innate creativity.


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